Report: Roland Garros 2014

Roland Garros crowd adores Monfils, Halep doesn’t get her due, Nadal shines again

Gaël Monfils on Saturday
Gaël Monfils on Saturday RFI/Pierre René-Worms

On day six of Roland Garros mercurial Monfils plays to the crowd, Halep struggles to be taken seriously, Petkovic gives too much information and Nadal outshines Mayer.

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  • If you give, you’ll get. Ooh the crowd, they love a showman and there is none better than Gaël Monfils. The Frenchman showed his mercurial mélange of insouciant genius and calamitous casualness during his third round match against Italian 14th
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  • seed Fabio Fognini, himself no stranger to breathtaking brilliance and mystifying carelessness. Fognini won the first set, Monfils claimed the next two and in the fourth went into meltdown losing it 6-0. There was a surge at the start of the decider when he obtained an early break and had a point to lead 4-0. He missed it and before you knew it Fognini had broken back to make it 3-2. But instead of wrenching back the match, Fognini crumbled again and Monfils romped home 6-2 after three hours and 24 minutes. Cheers, applause, French flags waving in the Parisian sunshine. Gloire and triomphe! “It was tough match to play," gasped Monfils told former player Fabrice Santoro afterwards. Pointing at the crowd, he added, "But you carried me. Thank you. Really, thank you." And the people gushed their approval. All that was missing was a rendition of La Marseillaise.

  • Six-nil? That’s exactly the score I wanted. Odd the times when it’s a tactic to lose a set without winning a game. But that’s what Gaël Monfils decided during his match with Fabio Fognini. Monfils said he was exhausted after winning the second and third sets. And when he realised he had no strength to fight back in the fourth he thought he’d save his energy to start serving first in the fifth. It worked. But only just.
  • A fourth seed has to work hard to be seen as a favourite. Romanian Simona Halep is the highest-ranked woman left in the draw. But she is not considered a favourite for the title. Her putative betters are out but the fourth seed is into the last 16. Maria Sharapova, the Russian seventh seed – the winner two years ago - says she fancies her chances. The Serbian 11th seed Ana Ivanovic was also apparently sizing herself up for another title here. Alas, she foundered on the rock that is Lucie Safarova. “It was a tough loss,” moped Ivanovic.
  • Sometimes we don’t want to know about the pain. The German 28th seed Andrea Petkovic is into the last 16 after a three-set win over the local heroine Kristina Mladenovic. But it was a struggle. “I’ve made great friends with the bathroom,” said Petkovic of her stomach virus. “I was drained of my energy levels.”
  • The scheduling committee has got its act together again. When it put the top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal on Suzanne Lenglen, the second show court, for his opening match, the schedulers caused a few raised eyebrows. Nadal was on centre court for his third round match on day seven. It was glorious sunshine and he duly eclipsed the unseeded Argentine Leonardo Mayer in straight sets. All that acrimony now seems long, long ago.

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